Feeling Economically Isolated, Israeli Arabs Reach Out to Jews

(JTA) - Gil Sedan Two and a half years ago, days after the Palestinian intifada began, Israeli Arab residents of Umm el-Fahm rampaged at the entrance to town, assaulting drivers who appeared Jewish. Since then, some Israeli politicians have suggested that as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Umm el-Fahm should be handed over to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for West Bank settlements that would be annexed to Israel. That set off alarm bells in the town. Though the strength of the Islamic Movement has made Umm el-Fahm nearly synonymous in recent years with anti-Israel radicalism, most residents - like the vast majority of Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens - would prefer to be a minority in the Jewish state than to live under the Palestinian Authority. Thus, even though Israel's new security fence cuts them off from their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank, many Israeli Arabs welcomed it. Perhaps, they said, it means the government didn’t really consider turning them over to the Palestinian Authority after all.

2003-05-09 00:00:00

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